Healthcare workers fear job cuts should UCP form government, party claims concerns unjustified
Representatives of the United Nurses of Alberta have voiced their concerns regarding the potential for sweeping job cuts if Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party prove victorious in the next provincial election.
Union members, representing nearly 30,000 healthcare workers, have broached the subject with Premier Notley after speculation emerged indicating the UCP planned to cut healthcare by as much as 20 per cent.
“I spoke with frontline worker who said what they were worried about was that they would see a repeat of what used to happen under previous governments, conservative governments in particular,” said Premier Notley on Tuesday in an interview with CTV Calgary. “What we have right now in Alberta is we have a choice coming up in the next election. My opponent has talked about, in one case, having our healthcare funding mirror that of B.C.’s. That would be about a 20 per cent cut.”
“There’s definitely talk about pulling back funding.”
UCP officials say they have never suggested a 20 per cent cut from the healthcare budget but confirmed that Alberta does pay 20 per cent more for healthcare than other provinces including British Columbia.
“The United Conservative Party has never stated that we will cut 20 per cent from healthcare,” said Angela Pitt, UCP MLA for Airdrie. “It’s really concerning that the premier of this province is trying to create such a division and such a fear amongst our frontline workers.”
If the UCP forms government, the party plans to search for inefficiencies within healthcare, primarily in the form of attrition of senior level positions, but any cuts to the budget are not expected to exceed two per cent in budget year 2022.
“Spending in this province is certainly a concern for so many Albertans, especially the people in Airdrie whom I represent, and we know that’s a concern for many of our party members. We have to look for efficiencies within the system. It’s top of mind, it’s important for all of us, and it’s the most sustainable way to move forward as a productive province.”
“The NDP have increased spending in healthcare in this province over the last three-and-a-half years but yet, wait times have increased significantly. Spending in healthcare doesn’t mean better outcomes.”
Pitt says the UCP’s official platform will be released in the near future.
With files from CTV's Brad MacLeod